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 January 7, 2008   •   VOL. 46, NO. 1   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Murder in Kenyan church
A man wipes his face in front of an Assemblies of God church where some 30 people were burned alive in Eldoret, Kenya, on Jan. 1. An explosion of tribal violence over a disputed presidential election has claimed the lives of more than 300 people.


In support
of families

More than 1.5 million people attended a Catholic rally in support of the traditional family in Madrid, Spain, Dec. 30. Pope Benedict XVI addressed the rally in a live video link.


Christmas added as holiday in Nepal
KATMANDU, Nepal (CNS) — Christmas is among nine religious and ethnic feasts the Nepalese government has added to the country’s list of public holidays after pressure from minority ethnic and religious groups.

Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim feast that follows the fasting month of Ramadan, was also added, making the number of public holidays in the country about 35, the bulk being Hindu festivals.

California a prime target for human trafficking
SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) — A report released Dec. 4 by the California Alliance to Combat Trafficking and Slavery said the state’s international border, numerous ports and airports, soaring immigrant population and growing economy all contribute to California being a prime target for human trafficking. It said that, beyond the sex trade, labor trafficking includes farming, construction, clothing manufacturing, domestic work, restaurants and the motel/hotel industry.

Violence grows against Christians in India
NEW DELHI (CNS) — India’s Catholic bishops have demanded a federal investigation into the Hindu violence against Christians in Orissa state and are seeking compensation for damages Christians suffered.

The violence, which has claimed five lives, began on Christmas Eve after about 500 Hindu radicals attacked a tent displaying the Nativity scene that Christians of various denominations put up in Bamunigam, a small town in the Kandhamal district.

Pope condemns assassination of Bhutto
THRISSUR, India (CNS) — Catholic leaders in Pakistan and Pope Benedict XVI have condemned the assassination at an election rally of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, leader of the opposition Pakistan People’s Party. “We condemn this dastardly act. It is a terrible tragedy for Pakistan,” said Bishop Anthony Lobo of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Pakistan.

Bhutto, 54, and several others were killed Dec. 27 in a suicide attack. Hundreds of thousands of Bhutto’s supporters wept, chanted and paid their last respects at her burial Dec. 28 in the town of Garhi Khuda Bakhsh.

Final Christmas Mass celebrated at ground zero
NEW YORK (CNS) — The 2007 Christmas Eve midnight Mass at ground zero was the last official Mass on the former site of the World Trade Center due to future construction. Franciscan Father Brian Jordan from St. Francis of Assisi Church in Manhattan has celebrated Christmas midnight Mass every year at the site since 2001.

The priest, who works with immigrants in the city, was an unofficial chaplain at ground zero after the towers collapsed. This year’s Mass was attended by about 75 people, including responders to the attack and victims’ families.

Ex-Prime Minister Blair received into Church
LONDON (CNS) — Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair became a Catholic during a private ceremony, Dec. 21, in London. Blair, previously an Anglican, was received into full communion with the Catholic Church by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor of Westminster. Blair was sponsored at the Mass of reception by his wife, Cherie, a Catholic.

Blair has been a regular worshipper at Mass with his family and in recent months was following a program of formation to prepare for his reception into the Church.

Mary Ann Glendon is new ambassador to Vatican
WASHINGTON (CNS) — The U.S. Senate confirmed Mary Ann Glendon, a U.S. law professor and president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, as the new U.S. ambassador to the Vatican Dec. 19.

Glendon, a Catholic, will succeed Francis Rooney, a Catholic businessman who has held the post since October 2005. Glendon is a law professor at Harvard University.

Abbey stops egg sales after PETA protests
MONCKS CORNER, S.C. (CNS) — Mepkin Abbey in Moncks Corner will shut down its egg production business because protests by an animal rights group have disrupted the monks’ “quiet life of prayer, work and sacred reading,” said Abbot Stan Gumula, adding that the Trappist monastery will need to come up with “a new industry to help us meet our daily expenses.” Approximately 9 million eggs produced each year by Mepkin’s laying hens had brought in about $140,000, about 60 percent of the abbey’s annual earned income.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) began criticizing the monastery’s egg operation in February.

Court annuls conviction in killing of U.S. nun
SAO PAULO, Brazil (CNS) — A court in the Brazilian state of Para has thrown out the murder conviction of Rayfran das Neves Sales, who had been tried and sentenced to 27 years in jail for killing U.S. Sister Dorothy Stang in 2005. The appeals court agreed with defense lawyers Dec. 18 that Sales had been denied the right to defend himself properly.

Prosecutors claim Sister Dorothy’s murder was ordered, while Sales states he killed the missionary out of self-defense because Sister Dorothy threatened him. Sales will remain in jail until a new date is set for the trial, his third in the case.

USF honors monks of Myanmar for their courage
SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) — Jesuit Father Stephen A. Privett, president of the University of San Francisco, presented an honorary degree to Buddhist monks from Myanmar Dec. 14, saying the honor would keep their “struggle for democracy in the minds and hearts of those of us who enjoy the freedoms they are struggling to achieve.”

In mid-August, Buddhist monks began leading peaceful demonstrations against spiraling inflation, corruption and the continued suppression of democracy by Myanmar’s ruling military regime. They were joined by tens of thousands of other people in Yangon and other towns.
It was the largest anti-government display since the military violently suppressed a 1988 pro-democracy uprising. In September, the military reacted with a violent crackdown on the protesters. Thousands of people, including monks, were beaten and arrested; some demonstrators were killed.

U.N. votes resolution to suspend executions
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — By a 104-54 vote Dec. 18, the U.N. General Assembly approved a nonbinding resolution calling for a suspension of the death penalty. The United States was among the countries opposing the resolution; 29 nations abstained. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said the vote “shows that despite the persistence of so much violence in the world, there is a growing awareness in the human family of the value of life, of the dignity of every person and of the concept of a nonvindictive punishment.”


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